UPDATE, OCT 20: The final video was released today. Watch and read about the project below:
OCT 13: For those who have been following the It Gets Better campaign, a video project started by Dan Savage in which people share their experiences of growing up queer, you will know that it has gained momentum and reached out to people around the world.
In Ottawa, two Carleton University students, Rob Nettleton and Melanie Rickert, have taken the campaign one step further by videotaping experiences of students at Carleton.
Following an idea that came together one night, they set up a Facebook page inviting students to share their stories and, in a one-day stint, set up camp in the University Centre and began to video.
The event was scheduled to run for the whole afternoon; in one hour they had more than 35 students come and share their experiences. Those who were camera shy were given the option of signing a tribute poster to gay teens who have recently committed suicide because of their experiences with bullying.
“A lot of people are just fresh out of high school, and when they come to Carleton, they are going to hit up the Pride centre first. We want them to see this and see the messages that Carleton students have said so that they know they are coming into an arms-wide-open environment,” says Nettleton.
Both Nettleton and Rickert say that many students who walked by the project were unaware of the teen suicides or the It Gets Better campaign, but others, like Rameez Ahmed, were at the opposite end of the spectrum. Ahmed was following the campaign and was eager to support Nettleton and Rickert’s project.
“Honestly, when I was 12 or 13, I would have loved it if I knew that there is a world out there that is supportive. I think that’s the message you need to send out: there are people there for you — there is a support group,” says Ahmed.
The plan is to have the message posted to the world in a few days. Rickert will be editing excerpts from the students and compiling it into one video to upload to YouTube in support of the It Gets Better campaign.
She is optimistic about the attention the project has received but pragmatic about how many people they can reach.
“If our video can reach at least one person then we have achieved something,” says Rickert.